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Public will get chance to speak on purchase of outlets

April 30, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A public hearing will be held during the May 9 Berkeley County Commission meeting to give area residents a chance to comment on the county's planned, multi-million-dollar purchase of the former Blue Ridge Outlet Center.

Public comments will be heard before the Berkeley County Building Commission approves or turns down the third and final reading of the ordinance authorizing the issuance of $5 million toward the purchase, renovation and equipping of the former outlets, Commission President Howard Strauss said.

The public hearing will begin at around 11 a.m. at 119 W. King St. in the planning commission meeting room. The commission meeting begins at 9:30 a.m.

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If the third reading is approved, the building commission will close on the sale of the outlets, which cost the county $3.8 million, Strauss said.

Nine area banks came together to loan the county the money.

The county will purchase a parking lot, and the Berkeley, Crawford and Dunn buildings from State Street Bank and Trust Co., which bought the outlets after owner Blue Ridge Outlet Association Limited Partnership III, including general partner Moncure Chatfield-Taylor, defaulted on a $13.5 million loan.

State Street Bank was the lender.

The center closed its doors in April 2000 after 16 years of operation.

The county hopes to transform the former shopping center into a judicial center in an effort to meet the space needs of the county's court system, which is spread out among five buildings.

In late February, the engineering firm of Spillis Candela DMJM told the county it would cost an estimated $14.8 million for renovations and new construction at the Berkeley Building, which is to house the judicial center.

The Community and Technical College of Shepherd College is now in the Berkeley Building. It will be moved to the Dunn Building after renovations are completed.

County officials hope the complex will be ready for occupancy by 2005.

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